Cattle Decapitation clearly set out to shock listeners with their newest LP, Death Atlas. Certainly the music is shockingly complex and downright insane, but that shouldn’t surprise us. The lyrics and overall theme of the record, is easily the most bleak, painful and shocking they’ve ever created. In short, Death Atlas is about the end of the world and the reality that humanity fails to embrace just over the horizon. This is a gut-wrenching, profoundly depressing record – yet is also clearly a call to action.
“Bring Back the Plague” is a stand out track in a record of stand out tracks. The music is intense and heavy and multi-layered. At the same time the band holds back a bit on the speed, demonstrating that Cattle Decapitation isn’t just about grindingly fast metal, but can really get into groove and nuance when they need or want to. The lyrics…those lyrics…. perhaps some of the most honest lyrics in metal I’ve heard all year…
“Bring back the plague
Delete those that threaten a new world
Dig their graves
They’ll find a way to rid the world of finding new tomorrows
End of days
Dig those graves
Bring back the plague
Even if it means your own survival is at stake
Dig your grave
We’ll find a way to rid the world of everyone tomorrow
End of days
Dig our grave”
The multipart vocal harmonies that Travis Ryan creates are maybe his best yet. So much has Ryan matured as a vocalist. He has never sounded better. His “clean” vocals “One Step Closer to the World” are mesmerizing – think ICS Vortex in Dimmu Borgir. This, of course is in addition to the ridiculous drums at the hands (and feet) of Dave McGraw and the mind-blowing riffage from Josh Elmore and Belisario Dimuzio. “With All Disrespect” showcases similar prowess.
‘Times Cruel Curtain” – wow! Solid chaotic grind meshed with rests, stops and starts, and mixed so well. Lots of space for bassist Olivier Pinard as well. An epic track with a profound seriousness and lots of contemplation about humanity’s decision to do very little about the havoc taking place on our planet.
The record closes with a 9 minute epic, “Death Atlas,” that seems to blend all elements that Cattle is known for. At times blazingly quick, then immediately slow – then dark and dreary. The perfect ending to what is essentially, a perfect record.
Melodic at times, rife with melancholy and sadness, this is a bold and honest record that will grab you as soon as your first listen. And you want be able to stop listening to it. It’s one of the year’s best.
Cattle Decapitation has always challenged listeners – from their lyrical content, to their merch, to disdain for western meat-oriented diets. Death Atlas, however, is their most direct and most cogent challenge to the metal community to date. This is a record that calls for action – that scares you – and you’ll feel compelled to do something after even the first listen.